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System locks up on Windows login screen

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January 15, 2012 7:59:24 PM

Upon turning the computer on, it goes through the boot process as normal (though slower than usual) until I reach the Windows login screen where I would normally input my password. Instead, nothing is displayed at all, aside from the background.

The last time it worked correctly was just before Christmas. I've been pretty busy since then and I haven't had much time to mess with it. I definitely did not install any new hardware prior to the problem developing. I think I may have installed the newest drivers for a few things, however, as I had been getting blue screens with increasing frequency prior to the computer being completely unable to boot.

Strangely, sometimes instead of getting to the windows login screen, I am instead prompted to insert a bootable device, as if the computer had no operating system installed on it. I haven't really determined any reason why sometimes it will reach the login screen and sometimes it doesn't.

Steps I have taken to try to solve the problem
1. Tried to boot with 1 stick of RAM instead of 2. Tried each stick seperately
2. Used memtest86 to test each stick of RAM. Turns out one of the sticks was bad, but I still don't get different results using just the good stick.
3. Allowed Windows Startup Repair to run for several hours, to no avail.
4. Tried boot with a Windows 7 install cd in the media drive. It tried to setup Windows 7, but locked up.
5. Banged my head against a wall once or twice.

Specs
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Processor
ASUS m4a79xtd EVO Motherboard
2x 2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600 (I took 1 stick out after memtest86 found errors)
Stock CPU Cooler
Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 1 GB
Samsung hd502hj 500 GB Hard Drive
Windows 7 32 bit
Raidmax Smilodon Extreme Black ATX Mid Tower

I'm pretty much stumped, so any help you can offer would be much appreciated.
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 15, 2012 9:23:53 PM

It sounds like the hard drive is dying.

Do you have another hard drive laying around?
January 15, 2012 9:26:36 PM

Unfortunately, I don't. Is there a good way to test if that's the issue aside from just trying a different hard drive?
Related resources
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 15, 2012 11:13:07 PM

If you can get into Windows you can do a hard drive scan to check for bad sectors on the hard drive.

Double click my computer
Right click on C:\
Properties
Tools
Error Checking
Check Now
Check the box to scan for and try to recover bad sectors
Hit scan
Accept that it can't do it now and reschedule it for the next boot
Restart

That will schedule the test and do it when you restart.

It may be difficult to pull off if you freeze all the time though.

Maybe if you try it a few times it will eventually work.
January 15, 2012 11:33:56 PM

I haven't been able to get into Windows at all since I've had this issue. Also, when I turn the computer on and hit 'delete' to enter the BIOS, it does recognize the hard drive. Does that indicate that the hard drive might not be the issue, or could it still be a dead hard drive?
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 15, 2012 11:41:27 PM

It can still be a dead hard drive.

There is a BIOS chip inside the hard drive that has bare minimum specs information on it that can be read even if the whole rest of the drive is destroyed beyond belief.

I wouldn't take the fact that it is recognized as a sign that it is perfectly good, especially not with the trouble you are having.
January 16, 2012 12:17:55 AM

No, actually I'm relieved just to be possibly on the right track here. Just wanted to make sure I was clear about what was going on. I guess I'll have to ask some friends if they happen to have a spare hard drive lying around, or order one and test it out.

Are there any other possibilities you can think of that I could test for before spending the money on a new hard drive?
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 16, 2012 12:56:09 AM

If you live near DC you can borrow a hard drive from me.

You already seem to have done most of the testing that you can do right now.

One thing you can do is to take the hard drive out of your computer and put it in one of your friends computers.

They will still be able to boot to their primary hard drive, and once they get into Windows they can run the scan on your drive while they are in Windows just like I said above except it doesn't require a restart if the drive has no files locked for editing because they are in use.
January 16, 2012 1:07:13 AM

Unfortunately I live in Florida. Thanks for the offer though!

In the next couple days I'll try and test out the hard drive in a friend's computer and see if that is indeed the problem. Thanks for your help.
!